Friday, June 29, 2007

Try Try Again

We have the most gracious friends and neighbors who invite us to go boating on a regular basis. Our summer so far has been a bit chaotic, but when Heather called with the promise of a few peaceful hours on Deer Creek, I knew I needed to go. She told me how being on the water would heal me, and for once I set aside my to do list, my stubborn schedule.

Bud wasted no time getting everyone in the water to ski or wakeboard. I could see the nerves growing in Cole's eyes. My usual gregarious little charmer became quiet and subdued. He was adamant about not trying to wake board. Unfortunately, he inherited his mother's stubbornness and the more we tried to cajole him, the deeper he dug in. When I questioned him why he didn't want to try he said "It's too hard."

I have seen this before in Cole. He is a bit of a perfectionist, like his dad, and is hesitant to try new things if he feels he will fail. Mostly this behavior manifests itself in his school work and oft times I have to push him to stretch himself. He is so bright, so capable, so full of ability and potential, but his comfort zone is oh so comfortable. He can easily coast along in many areas without much effort, so when an opportunity comes along to really have to apply himself, he hesitates. If it doesn't come easy, then why bother?

This drives the momma in me CRAZY. I see the big picture, I see the opportunities that are just outside his grasp if he would just try. I see the success he would have, I see the satisfaction he would feel in making the attempt. Mostly, I see a smart, talented, delightful young boy with the world at his fingertips.

So I did what I do with my kids when reasoning won't work. I bribed him. That's right, I bribe my kids on occasion. Because when all else fails, this one still works. The deal was brokered and Cole was in the water in ten seconds flat.

And guess what? Success was his almost instantaneously. I think he was completely wakeboarding on his own on his second attempt. So he's a winner on both accounts...he accomplished something he was afraid of and he gets to knock one book off of his summer reading list. But I'm a winner too. I loved seeing the joy in his demeanor, I enjoyed the confidence in his swagger the rest of the afternoon, and maybe, just maybe, I taught him that stepping outside of his comfort zone is worth the risk.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No Words

This morning was lazy, all of us a bit worn out from our late night at the Miss Utah Pageant. Tony took the kids to get a bagel and Miles and I stayed in our jammies until eleven.

"Do me a favor and write something on your blog today so I can read it." A simple request from Tony that made me pause and smile. I like that he enjoys my blog, I like that he wants new material, that he supports me in this release that is my writing.

The day was shaping up to be manageable in comparison to the past few weeks. Very few places to go and things to do, certainly today my schedule would allow an indulgent half hour spent at the computer. And I have lots of things to write about just drifting around inside my brain, so many thoughts needing to be recorded.

But then it came. A phone call which changed the course of the day. A heartfelt, but very painful conversation. A call which will certainly change and shape the days ahead. Decisions made beyond my control but which will have an enormous impact on my life and on those that I love.

I am concerned. I am confused. I disagree. I am empty. I have no words.

While I cannot adequately articulate this hurt even to Tony, I am lucky to have him. For I do not need his words to comfort me, only his arms around me, safe and quiet enough to calm my troubled heart.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Daddy Ritual

Most days Miles awakes just as the dawn is breaking. The night sky is beginning to fade and his room is bathed in soft, clean light; so subtle that I can barely make out the smile that spreads across his lips to greet me.

I warm his bottle and bring him into our bed for breakfast and a morning snuggle. He quickly molds his body to my own, and settles in, eagerly sucking. It only takes a few moments to satisfy his hunger and then he instinctively arches away from me and straightens his legs in search of his daddy. Knowing the pattern, I hug him tighter against my chest, anxious to keep him from disturbing Tony's sleep.

But he struggles, he perseveres, and stretches just so, until his feet are firmly planted on Tony's back. Only then does he settle in for a few more hours of sleep. It's as if in the pale morning light he needs physical reassurance that daddy is there. Ten sweet little toes trying to make a connection, as if to say "I just wanted to be sure of you".

Tony has what I call a daddy-ritual with each of our children. Small tokens and tender traditions which evolve over time. I delight in watching how seemingly simple routines become treasures in the eyes of my children. Priceless to them because of how they feel in their father's presence.

For Miles, it is laying with Tony on the trampoline each night. Together they lay on a blanket, watching the clouds go by, listening to the rustle of the breeze in the trees, feeling the gentle sway of the trampoline beneath them. Mostly, they just stare into each other's eyes, and there is instant, visceral communication.

Joining them on the trampoline would be an intrusion, for this moment is theirs alone. So, although I have not witnessed it first hand, I am confidant if I walked outside, I would find Miles with his feet snuggled up against his Dad, trying to convey all the thoughts that beat against his heart.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Pirate No More

Mr. Miles was born with congenital Esotropia (crossing eyes). Usually when babies have this condition, they train their brain to use one eye or the other in order to focus which often results in Amblyopia (lazy eye). Such was the case with Miles. While both eyes were crossed, the left eye also had Amblyopia as he favored his right eye.

Esotropia and Amblyopia can usually be corrected with patching or with glasses. Inasmuch as Miles vision is perfect, our only option was to try patching his strong eye, hoping to correct his lazy eye. For the past two months, we have patched his eye for two hours everyday. He has tolerated the patching very well and has giggled through his daddy and brother teasing him about being a pirate. Arrgh!

Unfortunately, we didn't get the results we were hoping for with patching, so it became necessary to have eye muscle surgery. Strabismus surgery involves operating on one or more of the six muscles of the eye. Typically, the surgeon will weaken or strengthen an eye muscle by moving it to a different position on the eye in order to acheive adequate eye alignment.

When a child's eyes are not in proper alignment, the child will "see" with the straight eye and "ignore" the sight from the turned eye. This means that the child is only using one eye at a time. Successfully aligning a childs eyes may allow a child to use both eyes at the same time giving the child better quality vision.

Today, our sweet baby gave up the patch, and underwent strabismus surgery at Primary Childrens Medical Center. I am happy and relieved to report that all went well, and Miles is home and resting somewhat comfortably. We won't know the complete outcome of his surgery for six weeks, as it will take that long for his brain to adjust to the realignment of his eyes. But so far, he looks really good and we are hopeful that he will not have to repeat the surgery.

Sitting in most any waiting room at PCMC is a humbling experience. On both of my previous visits to our pediatric opthamologist, my heart ached as I witnessed the suffering of so many very, very sick and disabled patients. Today was no exception. As stressful as it was to have my sweet six month old undergo surgery under general anesthesia, I had the calm reassurance that he was in fact extremely healthy and his surgery was non-invasive.

We sat in pre-op with a family whose three month old was having his second surgery for clef lip/palette repair. His first surgery was at one week old to repair a birth defect in his skull. Another family sat with their son who was confined to a wheel chair and used sign language and a computer to speak. I cannot begin to imagine the countless surgeries and doctor visits these two boys will face in their future.

I was again reminded of the miracle that Miles is in our lives. Every time I visit that hospital, I gain perspective and strength. Every time. And I am grateful.

Our baby is home, he is well, and we are on our way to a full recovery. We have been enveloped in our Heavenly Father's care today and He has surrounded us with earthly angels: Thank you to my mom for sitting with me at the hospital all day; Thank you to John and Gina for stopping by last night to help administer to Miles; Thank you to Whitney for taking Rachel and for a most delicious dinner; Thank you to Heather for taking Cole and for handling the football shopping and Lacrosse running; Thank you to Tony's parents for visiting and for bringing dinner for tomorrow night; Thank you to Angela who made several calls to PCMC on our behalf even though she was somewhere far away in the Uintah Mountains at Girls Camp; and Thank you to many friends and loved ones who have called, e-mailed and offered up prayers on our behalf.

We are indeed blessed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Parents Behaving Badly

Tony has been coaching Cole's lacrosse team for a few years. It's a thankless job and one that he puts a lot of time and effort into. He does it for Cole and I so appreciate his willingness and desire to make Cole such a priority in his life.

This spring he had the arduous task of dividing the Alta Lightning league into two teams. We had over 40 boys sign up to play, so in an effort to give the boys a lot of playing time and a better experience, Tony divided the team. He agonized over splitting the teams so that they were equally balanced with talent and experience. In fact, he gave several of his most talented boys to the other Alta Team.

Last week we played Waterford. They too, had two teams for Spring Lacrosse. As the boys were warming up, Tony questioned the Waterford coach as to which team they were, Waterford Blue or Waterford Maroon. The coach insisted they were the "Maroon" team. This seemed suspicious to Tony and to Cole as they recognized several key players on the Waterford team as players that were on the "Blue" team we had played a few weeks ago.

Long story short, we lost a hard fought battle to Waterford "Maroon". After the game, and from continued discussion with Cole and I, Tony realized that the Waterford Coach was "stacking" his team. This means that Waterford was taking it's best players and allowing them to play on both teams. One of these players was their best scorer, and another, their best goalie. This is completely against Utah Lacrosse rules and regulations. Essentially, Waterford cheated.

When Tony called the Waterford Coach to question what he had done, the coach admitted that he was "stacking" and didn't see or understand why it was a big deal.

I'll tell you why it was a big isn't fair to our boys who play by ALL of the rules to have to play against and lose to a team who conveniently stacks it's team with their most talented players.

I saw this same behavior a few weeks back when Rachel was trying out for a dance club. The girls attended a workshop where they were taught a short jazz combination that they needed to perform during the audition. Several mothers wanted to video tape the dance combination in order to help their girls learn and rehearse the routine before the audition. The Director of the studio did not allow video taping claiming that part of the audition was to evaluate the girls on their ability to learn and perform choreography.

I was amazed to see several mothers crowding the observation window taking copious notes of every step the girls were learning. Several mothers were even performing the choreography in the hallway so as to be able to go home and teach their daughters.

I just don't get it.

I don't understand parents who want their children to succeed at all costs. It is unreal to me that parents try to skirt around the rules in order to insure that their children are winners. Is this a case of living vicariously through your children and wishing on them the success you never had?

To me, this lacks integrity, it is the finest example of poor sportsmanship I know of'; it teaches children that winning the game, or making the team is more important than being real, than being honest, than doing your personal best. It teaches your children that you value their success more than you value them. Because truly, shouldn't we all trust that our children are trying their hardest to develop their talents, to find out who they are, to have personal growth, and that, in and of itself, should be enough. Win or lose.

Personally, one of the best lessons I can teach my children is how to fail, and how to pick themselves up and keep on trying. There will come a day when life deals roughly with them, when there is no one around to carry them to victory. I want them to be prepared, I want them to have the confidence to persevere and succeed....confidence which can only come from within.


Monday was in a word, crazy. I think when my neighbor came over around 11 and found me still in my jammies rushing around the house like a mad woman, she knew something was up.

Out the door I headed to take my sweet Sophie dog to the vet for a sore ear. Little did I know the rest of the afternoon would be spent with Sophie in surgery. I love my Sophie. I almost love her as much as I love my kids. She is ALWAYS happy to see me and she NEVER talks back. Moreover, she seems to know when to come and sit with me for a while so I can seek comfort in the mindless task of stroking her back.

But I simply did not have time on Monday for her to have a medical crisis. Do you ever have one of those days where there are simply too many things on your to do list? I do, it happens all the time. And then, two or three more things get thrown at you that are quite pressing and really need your immediate attention. But those two or three more things seem to slowly push you over the edge as you try to re-adjust your schedule? Yeah, I thought so. We've all been there.

And that is why when my neighbor asked if there was anything she could do to help me, I quickly added a few items to her grocery list.

I went about my day and arrived home to the blessed smell of dinner in the oven. Not only had she picked up the ingredients I needed, she had gone the extra mile and prepared dinner for me. I think I almost cried. I was so tired and stressed and so completely grateful that someone had taken care of me as I struggled to take care of those around me.

She left me a sticky note in the fridge that went something like this:

Bread $1.50
Turkey $8.17
Cheese: $4.00
Lettuce: $2.00

Cost of a Completely Prepared Dinner: PRICELESS

Many, Many Thanks to Heather for the delicious meal and for taking care of me in so many ways.

PS. Here is the recipe for the grubbin' French Dip Sandwiches she made. If you own the infamous Peacocks cookbook, it's Kelly's recipe.

French Dip Sandwiches

4 lbs boneless thinly sliced rump roast (Heather used sliced Roast Beef from the deli, and only 2 pounds)
2 cans beef broth
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
12 oz. apple juice
1 Large can mushrooms with juice
2 cloves minced garlic
1 beef bouillon cube
slice mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place beef in large dish. Combine all ingredients and pour over meat. Cover with foil and bake for 3-3 1/2 hours. Butter large sourdough sand which rolls, add sliced mozzarella and toast. Heat roast on rolls and dip in remaining juices.